Australian Air Force Corporal Matthew Courbrough came from Townsville and is helping clear debris at Joseph Brady Park in Barellan Point.
Australian Air Force Corporal Matthew Courbrough came from Townsville and is helping clear debris at Joseph Brady Park in Barellan Point. Rob Williams

Troops relishing flood clean-up

SOME of the areas they have been might look like war zones, but that’s where the resemblance to the traditional duties undertaken by defence force personnel ends.

Hundreds of army, air force and navy officers have been on the ground in Ipswich in recent weeks helping out with the city’s massive flood clean-up effort.

At the peak of the flood crisis, more than 1900 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were on the ground in the Ipswich, Brisbane and Toowoomba regions.

This week Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said about 400 ADF personnel have been helping out in Ipswich, completing a range of tasks from traffic control to house and business clean-ups.

While the clean-up efforts are now starting to wind down, RAAF Flight Lieutenant Damian Johnson said the officers were still keen to help where needed.

Overseeing the cleaning of Joseph Brady Park in Barellan Point as part of Joint Task Force 637, Flt Lt Johnson said it had been a busy few weeks for the troops.

“We’ve been in Goodna for most of the time, and we’ve done a few days in the North Booval/Bun- damba area and Colleges Crossing before coming here,” he said.

“The guys are enjoying it; they’re out and about using their skills to help out the community.

“The reaction from the community has been great. They’ve been very grateful and appreciative.”

He said a lot of RAAF and army personnel based at RAAF Base Amberley felt a connection to the city of Ipswich.

An ADF contingent, including personnel and heavy equipment from the Amberley-based 21st Construction Squadron and Sydney’s 17th Construction Squadron this week helped to clear Colleges Crossing.

It enabled the trouble-plagued crossing to reopen after another long closure.

Cr Pisasale this week said the amount of work done around the city to date would have taken months longer if not for the Australian Defence Force effort.

“We are so lucky to have had these young men and women from the ADF helping out. Without them the past week-and-a-half of clean-up could have taken months,” Cr Pisasale said.

He said the ADF personnel had not just provided physical help in the clean-up.

“They have been absolutely inspirational and in many cases provided counselling and a shoulder for people to have a cry on,” he said.

Ipswich City Council’s Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) deputy chairman Trevor Nardi said the group would have its last standing meeting today.



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